You knew that eventually we had to go here and do a proper Gun Nuts Movie Review of the Red Dawn remake. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – it’s not as good as the John Milius 1984 classic Red Dawn for a couple of reasons. However, it is actually a pretty fun movie overall.
First things first though, and I have to talk about the big change from the original movie – the bad guys. Part of the fun of the original Red Dawn, part of what made it good was that the Soviet Union posed a credible threat of actually invading the United States. People actually worried about that. North Korea…not so much. The writers throw in some cabbagehead dialog and a bit during the opening sequence to hand wave away how North Korea pulled it off, and once you suspend disbelief a little bit, you mostly forget that the baddies are specifically from North Korea.
The other weak point in the remake was the relationship between Jed and his younger brother Matt. In the original film, Jed and Matt are played by Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen; the strength of their relationship is what unites and carries the team through the film. The remake has Chris Hemsworth (best know for playing Thor) as Jed, and Josh Peck, whom you’ve never heard of playing Matt. For whatever reason, the writers decide to add a bunch of conflict to their relationship, and there is a solid 20 minutes right in the middle of the film of them working things out with brother-talk when they should be shooting commies in the face.
Because really, that’s what you watch a movie like Red Dawn to see. Luckily, Red Dawn did deliver in the commie-face-shooting category, with a couple of really strong short battle scenes and one big climatic fight at the near end of the movie. Their homage to the iconic scene where the Robert character holds his AK high and screams “Wolverines!” was actually better in the remake, because it had more commie shooting and an M249.
In fact, the gun handling in the remake was generally excellent. There is a moment during the last fight where Thor does a textbook AK speed reload by hitting the mag release and magazine with the fresh mag. I am not going to lie, I enjoyed that quite a bit. The guns used in the movie are pretty much what you’d expect, lots of AKs wearing various types of furniture, and the actual American military personnel equipped with M4 carbines.
I can’t really say that the remake of Red Dawn is an actually good movie. But then again, the first one wasn’t really great either. What the remake of Red Dawn does do is deliver on its promise of shooting commies in the face with automatic weapons, and Thor is in it. You have to put up with some teenage angst to get there, but the payoff scenes are worth listening to not-Charlie-Sheen whine about his dead mom or whatever. It’s a great choice for a movie to watch while flying on a plane, or if you just want to turn your brain off and watch stuff explode.